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Thailand forum

Thai visa crackdown

Posted by somtam2000 on 13/7/2014 at 20:33 admin

Thai Visa has the scoop on this.

"You are a tourist for 30 days, not more."

and an important point:

"All of the foreigners who were denied entry had a previous history of multiple visa exempt entries or back to back tourist visas."

Lets see how this develops.

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,706
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Posted by SBE on 14/7/2014 at 04:10

Wow. Land entry now denied even if you've got a proper 60 tourist visa in your passort?! How come the consulates issuing the visas didn't mention this? Distinct lack of communication between the various officials and I get the impression nobody has a clue what the official Thai immigration texts actually say any more.

-According to Immigration border officials, the official rule is max one 30-days exemption stamp or Tourist visa and no previous tourist visa extensions.
-The Sungai Kolok border checkpoint additionally tells thaivisa.com that passport holders from Russia, Laos, Vietnam and South Korea are no longer welcome to enter Thailand via their checkpoint.
-The official we spoke to who did not wish to be named said these new measures are following new orders from Immigration Bureau in Bangkok.


OK, that's it as far as I'm concerned. The hassle factor has now exceeded what I'm prepared to put up with so I'll be skipping Thailand altogether next trip. Seems the military don't want tourist $$$ from repeat visitors or anyone who can afford to be on holiday for longer than 30 days. However other countries do, so I predict that Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam etc will be getting record numbers of tourists next season.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 14/7/2014 at 04:34 admin

I think the crucial piece is this:

"All of the foreigners who were denied entry had a previous history of multiple visa exempt entries or back to back tourist visas."

For all we know the people turned away had five years of back to back 30-day entries -- in which case, well, they had is coming.

I arrive there next week - lets see what they make of my passport :-p

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Posted by freiburger on 14/7/2014 at 04:53

I am a little concerned also. I do have multiple 30 days excemptions in my passport, since I travel 2 times a year for vacation to Thailand and always spend a few days in other countries.

Last year I had in 4 visa excempts. This time I will fly in via Bangkok, stay 5 days, go to Bali and will try to get back to BKK, stay for 2 nights to catch my flight back home. In total I will stay for 2 weeks.

But no guarantee they let me in the second time, since:

the official rule is max one 30-days exemption stamp

I am really worried now. But rerouting my flight to Jakarta would mean I loose my AirAsia flight and I have to pay 200 euros for changing of my flights.

As a backup I thought if things go really wrong, I could catch a flight from Bali to Jakarta or KLIA to catch a flight to Suvharnabumi the day of my departure. This way I would not enter Thailand and stay in transit. Might be the cheapest thing to do but still leaves a little uncertainty, because still things could go wrong in Jakarta.

I know that I am a normal tourist and this new regulations should not apply to me, but who knows ...

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Posted by MADMAC on 14/7/2014 at 05:05

I would be surprised if the Thai authorities became draconian on this subject. Thailand makes big money off of tourism. If suddenly officialdom makes coming here difficult, less people will come here, more will go elsewhere. Utlimately airlines will start rerouting... we are talking significant money to be lost.

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Posted by Captain_Bob on 14/7/2014 at 08:14

It's my fault! (and people like me) I did back-to-back visa exemptions and tourist visas for about 8 years. Thankfully on a non-immigrant-o now, but the writing was on the wall. They've slowly but surely been cracking down on serial visa-runners staying for years, clearly residents not tourists. Sorry for those under-50 single online income types who are now going to feel the pinch.

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Posted by DLuek on 14/7/2014 at 12:17 TF writer

It's not surprising that "serial visa runners" are being cracked down on, and many would agree with that step. But the lack of communication between the consulates / embassies and immigration magnifies Thailand's generally dysfunctional bureaucracy and is embarrasing for the country.

The general lack of clarity and very real possibility of being turned away despite having a valid visa will certainly keep some genuine travelers away. But I'd wager that this was an isolated case of an overzealous (or anti-farang?) immigration chief... I imagine that either (s)he or the embassy that issued the visas will get a reprimand -- this is a loss of face for the country's government.

But if I were a traveler, the only precaution I might take is to avoid this specific crossing (will be interesting to hear how somtam fairs there next week -- good luck!). People are saying that there have been no problems entering with tourist visas from Cambodia or Laos, or at the airports as of yet.

Still, even if nearly all of the people who were turned away in this case have stacks of consecutive tourist visas spanning years, it's easy to imagine a legit traveler with a few visas from years past and maybe one from the past year being clumped in with the rest. That risk alone is awfully bad for Thailand's tourism industry, which has already struggled massively due to the protests and coup so far this year. From a tourism standpoint, the timing of this couldn't be worse.

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Posted by squarethecircle on 14/7/2014 at 16:06

I wouldn't worry if you are coming as a tourist and have been exiting for some time. I was at the border S of Hat Yai last year and was talking with multiple other "tourists" who flat out stated they were working in Krabi or Phuket on tourist visas for over a year and had some work-around with the local authorities to just hop down to Penang consulate for another 2-month tourist visa. These guys - and I understand the Russians, Koreans, etc. - are the targets, genuine tourists obviously have nothing to worry about as the country wants their money.

A few days back I got stamped in up north in CR with 30-day-visa-exempt despite having a passport full of in-outs (did that 1-2 years ago, but exited for multiple weeks into Myanmar/Laos/Malaysia so immigration didn't give me problems then), no questions were asked and I was stamped right in as a genuine tourist as I have spent lengthy times working outside of the country and that is clear from my PP. Let's see what happens the next time I go in but I foresee no issues as an obvious work-outside-the-country-spend-inside-the-country visitor.

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Posted by exacto on 15/7/2014 at 14:45

Captain Bob was one of the first people I thought of when somtam posted this story. I'm glad to see that hitting that half-century mark is doing someone some good. Hooray for you Bob!

The comments on Thai Visa seemed split into two camps, with one side outraged and the other thinking this had long been in the works. Personally, I don't think it is unreasonable for Thailand to actually enforce their immigration laws, but they seem to be doing it in a very uneven and difficult to predict way - and with zero coordination between their consulates and their border guards. Plus, are they really saying you can't cross by land, but if you bus to KL and fly over, that's okay? Seriously. How is that different?

I'm not ready to abandon my next plans to visit Thailand, as others have said, but I definitely get how with all the new direct flights to other places, it isn't essential to pass through Bangkok as it once was. Plus, some of those other places have really developed into awesome destinations. Maybe that's a topic for another thread, comparing Thailand to Indonesia and other spots.

Somtam and others, definitely please let us know how your next overland crossing turns out. Cheers.

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Posted by captainbkk on 16/7/2014 at 06:41

My own thoughts
have passed that border some 2 yrs ago and I was the FIRST farang to do that )came on train via that bombed out line) since 3 days-they had to delve for that stamp and at Malay immi this was confirmed (I speak malay/bahasa, so we had a chat).This was overclearly an organised visa-run group, using AirAsia to Narathiwat and doing the KOtaBaru consul, as there are so few regular travellers now via that post. Incl. the histerical reporter, as is usual on TV. And now they blow that story around.
Same happened by now some 4-5 yrs ago when police clearly aimed for a van from Pattaya to Camb ful of overstay people-when that same story got blown out of all proportion of course also on TV.

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Posted by SBE on 16/7/2014 at 10:40

From The Nation yesterday:

Meanwhile, the Immigration Bureau website says: "Leniency will be granted until August 12, but only for passengers arriving by air. Foreigners who come to Thailand must seek a proper visa in line with the purpose of their intended stay here."

Now, those on a visa run who are allowed back in will find an "O-I" (Out-In) mark next to their latest stamp marking entry. From August 13, nobody with an O-I sign on their passport will be allowed to re-enter Thailand if they cannot produce a proper visa.

So chances are they'll let you in Somtam but you'll get O-I stamped on your passport and you'll have to buy a tourist visa every time you want to spend a couple of days in Thailand from now on.

When I tried to get a Thai tourist visa in Bali about 3 years ago it wasn't quick and easy....the taxi had great trouble finding the consulate (one way street or something) and I was told they had to send my passport to the embassy in Jakarta so it would take about a week to process.

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Posted by Captain_Bob on 23/8/2014 at 04:13

Immigration Bureau told to be flexible with visa runners
Coup leader calls for Immigration to relax out-in visa clampdown

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Posted by DLuek on 23/8/2014 at 07:01 TF writer

From the first article: "Prayuth said the change of the visa system concerning visa runners had considerably affected certain groups such as English teachers and academics."

Good to see they're considering English teachers. Here's a quote from an Ajarn.com article by an obviously experienced English teacher who recently moved back to Australia due to the visa changes:

"The work that I enjoyed the most - language schools and corporate training - could not provide me with a work permit and I could no longer stay by renewing my tourist visa... There is no provision for companies who employ English instructors on an hourly basis to be able to supply work permits, in my experience... As for the recent changes to the visa regulations, I believe it will mean more schools will have to begin processing work permits for teachers and, in my experience, that spells disaster."

Wouldn't be surprised if they make a new, easier-to-acquire visa type specifically for English teachers, as Thailand really needs as many native-speaking English teachers around as possible. The average pay and perks in Thailand already stinks compared to Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, etc. -- and the visa hoops are a lot more challenging from what I understand

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Posted by Annielay on 8/9/2014 at 01:46

So to clarify all of the above new regulations - my planned 7 days in Laos from Chiang Kong then return to Thailand to fly out from Chiang Mai should be fine. No problems?

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Posted by squarethecircle on 8/9/2014 at 05:03

"So to clarify all of the above new regulations - my planned 7 days in Laos from Chiang Kong then return to Thailand to fly out from Chiang Mai should be fine. No problems?"

No problems as you are doing what a genuine tourist would do.

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